Letters: Bassett Responds

Letters to the Editor

Bassett Responds

As I frequently hear from our patients (many of whom are family, friends, and neighbors) it’s often difficult to schedule an appointment with Bassett. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from a patient or family member about their challenging experience accessing care, and a recent editorial published by one of our community members in this newspaper really hit home.

Long hold times, dropped calls, unreliable customer service, limited appointment availability, and other access issues have created unsatisfactory experiences for a long time. More than 30 percent of Bassett’s inbound calls are abandoned by our patients. And in some areas of our health system, it can take months to see a practitioner. We are failing our patients and hurting our organization and we cannot allow this to continue. Our ability to grow and advance our mission hinges on creating a seamless and accessible patient experience.

It’s time we make some significant changes.

I am pleased to share the first phase of our transformation began on August 14, when caregivers in Bassett’s Cooperstown-based Call Center became Optum-managed while still being employed by Bassett. This phase in our Bassett-Optum partnership will allow us to pursue opportunities to improve our patients’ access to care, enabling increased staffing levels and implementing better call handling and appointment scheduling capabilities that will improve overall patient satisfaction. We are here to support our dedicated Call Center agents through this transition, which will make their day-to-day work more manageable.

One of our top priorities in this initial phase of the transformation is improving the experience patients have when they first call into our system. Optum’s engagement in this work will enhance this front-end process by infusing industry-leading knowledge, resources, technology, and skills into our system. Enhancements will be made in thoughtful, phased approaches with direct input from Bassett leaders, practitioners, and frontline staff. Optum’s involvement will provide the tools we need to deliver the superior customer service our patients and communities deserve. But to truly modernize and improve access, we need to change, too. These improvements are long overdue and provide yet another example of how Bassett is embracing the growing needs of our patients and communities with innovation and agility.

In the coming weeks and months, I plan to host community forums around the region to meet our patients and their loved ones. I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences with me as we work together to make things better.

Please watch for more details on www.bassett.org, Bassett Healthcare Network’s Facebook page, and here. Our Call Center improvements are one of the many new initiatives you will be hearing about in the near future.

Bassett’s mission is improving the health of our patients and the wellbeing of our communities — and this starts with efficient and compassionate experiences when you call us for care. Your call is very important to us and we are committed to making all the necessary improvements. Thank you for continuing to entrust us with your care.

Dr. Tommy Ibrahim
President & CEO, Bassett Healthcare Network

6 thoughts on “Letters: Bassett Responds

  1. dylis

    Actions will speak louder than words, and I hope that the new system will do as promised. We moved out of the area, but in the past two weeks have been dealing with hospitals and health facilities in Ithaca and Rochester, and never had any problems or delays getting phones answered by a live person. I just wonder, Dr. Ibrahim, if as you say you’d been hearing about the problem for so long, why did it take having the issue published in the paper to get a response?

  2. cynthia mccartney

    Glad someone is listening and willing to make changes!! Let’s hope something positive is done

  3. Sandra Palmer Ross

    Please pay special attention to the demographics of your patients!
    My 88 year old mother, although very savvy when it comes to most technology, does NOT NEED more technology or an upgraded phone system with more bells and whistles. She needs to speak to a person!
    Hopefully the upgraded technology will be used by people who are more comfortable with it, and will free up the time from your limited staff to take care of the Seniors.

  4. Elaine Wood, RN

    The change to having a call center approach for the Whole Bassett network (for the last 1-2 years) seems to not be working. The previous practice connected patient calls with the office being called and worked. Not going thru 3 different people in 3 different locations and then waiting. Change is inevitable and moving towards the future is appropriate, but-not all changes are good. I maybe wrong but wouldn’t Mr. Ibrahim be the one to answer “why” the call center- Cooperstown based, for the whole network was instituted under his watch? Does he wait 30 minutes on the phone to talk to someone in the network, I imagine not. Also in my opinion each community with a network hospital has had their previously available services, providers, staff decreased with redirection to Cooperstown. Patients have lost assurance of available health care services at “their” community hospital. This has various patients traveling 40-50 miles for service. Health care continues to change but that should not be the reason for poor patient focus or service. I agree actions speak louder than words so here’s hoping better actions (instead of words) help make positive changes.

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